Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Saurabh Sethi, MD, MPH
This feature article was written by freelance writer, Jenna.
There are a lot of misconceptions out there about STDs and how they can and can’t be contracted. And while we’ve already laid the ‘can I get an STD from a toilet seat’ issue to rest, it seems like this might be a good time to go over some of the basics. This isn’t meant to be condescending at all, and nobody here is going to assume that you are a novice when it comes to sexual health. After all, even the most renowned scientists need a refresher in the basics every now and then, right?
So, let’s get right down to it. There are several ways a person can contract an STD. The most obvious method, of course, is by having sex. You will note that we didn’t specifically say unprotected sex just now. This is because while condoms, dental dams, and the like can help prevent your chances of contracting an STD, they are not 100% guaranteed to work.
That’s a bummer, we know. But you should know that the only way to ensure that you are never ever exposed to an STD is to abstain from sex.
Here are some of the non-sexual ways a person can contract an STD:
Sharp Points (About STDs)
Even if you are not a drug user yourself, you need to be vigilant about the needles with which you come into contact. This is especially true for southern border towns, like San Diego, where, according to one expert source, illicit drugs like heroin and meth are on the rise. Do not touch needles you find with your bare fingers; you could get stuck. And if you get stuck accidentally (it happens), see a doctor immediately.
This same risk is carried by anything that could potentially cut or break your skin: razors, knives, scissors, etc.
Many people think they are in the clear when it comes to STDs, because they refrain from having genitally penetrative sex. Unfortunately – and this is going to be a buzzkill – STDs can be transmitted even through non-genitally penetrative sex. Oral sex, dry sex, and even kissing can transmit an STD from one person to another. Basically, any scenario that involves the intermingling of peoples’ bodily fluids is rife with risk for STD transmission.
There are some STDs, like public lice, that are caused by parasites that can live outside the body for a while. So, let’s say a person who has pubic lice lets a person who doesn’t have pubic lice use his (or her) towel after using it to dry themselves off. That towel is where the parasite will be contained. The person who uses it second risks introducing the parasite into his or her own system. Granted, the risk is relatively low, but it still exists.
About STDs and Prevention
The only way to make absolutely sure you never contract an STD is to encase yourself in a bubble so that no part of you can come into contact with anyone or anything else. But who is really going to do that? Most of you will do just fine by employing the following safety protocols:
Only engage in sexual activities with someone you have had the safer sex conversation with. Yes, this can be an awkward conversation, but if it keeps you safer, isn’t a little bit of awkwardness worth it?
Avoid drugs and alcohol. These substances lower your inhibitions. When your guard is down, you are more likely to forego the usual measures you might take to keep yourself protected. You could engage in unprotected sexual behaviors or other activities that put you at risk for any number of problems.
Reduce friction on your skin (friction contributes to breaks) by using lubricants. These materials act as a barrier for your skin and to those things with which you come into contact.
If You Are Exposed
If you have been exposed to an STD or think you might be infected, see your doctor immediately. The sooner you see your doctor, the sooner you can consider testing to determine whether or not you have contracted anything. Not only that, but you can get the medications you need to treat whatever it is that you have contracted.
Here’s the good news about STDs: they can feel embarrassing, sure, but when tested and treated, very few cause serious health concerns.
Whatever you do, don’t pretend they don’t exist. Instead, go on the offensive, and do what you need to do to keep yourself as safe as possible.
– – – –
Jenna is a freelance writer who got into blogging in college and copywriting upon graduation. Jenna has usually written about topics that mean a lot to her, such as health and medicine when applied to family and loved ones. Jenna is an avid runner, as long as its not a marathon distance jog!
– – – –
Have you also wondered about STDs and how they are contracted or how to reduce your risk of contracting them? Did this help answer your questions? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!